Watertown hosts Oregon for homecoming on Friday
Watertown’s football team looks to stay unbeaten in the Badger South when it hosts the Oregon Panthers for homecoming on Friday.
Oregon enters the game 5-2 and 4-1 in league play, while Watertown comes in 6-1 and 5-0.
The Panthers lost to Mount Horeb/Barneveld 41-30 in Week 2 and lost to defending conference champion Monona Grove 21-7 in Week 3. Since then, Oregon has torn up league foes Fort Atkinson (40-0), Milton (38-13), Stoughton (35-10) and Edgewood (35-6).
“They are a very good football team,” Watertown football coach Benji Kamrath said. “Their two losses are to two very good teams. They are very explosive on offense.”
Nolan Look (600 passing yards), Dylan DiMaggio (650 rushing yards, 174 receiving yards, second in the conference in rushing), Keion Szudy (578 rushing yards) and Carter Erickson (120 receiving yards) are the skill leaders for Oregon.
“They are a wing-T team, similar to the offense we saw against Monroe. They have some very good athletes in the backfield.
“Typically they have three running backs in the backfield and one slot receiver in, and one tight end.
“They run a lot of deception in the backfield with their fakes. We have to be keying to their guards. You can’t get your eyes stuck in the backfield looking at fakes. They mix run game with play action. They go in spread formation on passing downs. They have shown capabilities of moving the ball that way as well. They’ve moved the ball against really good football teams and put up good numbers.
“We are definitely going to have to have a good solid game plan. They do some things similar to Monroe, some things different. We’ll change and adjust as the game goes on. If they look for areas to exploit, we’ve got to make different adjustments and take away what they are doing. It’s definitely a challenge, but one we’re excited about.”
Watertown junior quarterback Ethan Pauly leads the league in passing with 1,551 yards. Junior receiver Daniel Denault leads the league in receiving with 484 yards. Junior receiver Cade Oiler is third in the conference with 400 yards, but was lost for the season with a broken fibula last week.
“He’s been a big part of our success,” Kamrath said. “We’ll miss him. Guys will have to step up and find a way to fill the void and make some big plays for us. Cade’s our newly hired assistant coach.”
Oregon returns a number of players on both sides of the ball.
“Last year, they played a 43 defense,” Kamrath said. “They tried to bring pressure from different areas. As the game went on, they changed their defense. We’ve watched five games this year. They showed a number of different fronts, different coverages. We’ve gotten used to that with every team we play. They tend to not stay in the same front or coverage. We’ll prepare for anything and adjust as we go on.”
Watertown has had some great games running the football this season, but last week’s game at Stoughton wasn’t one of them.
“We’ll try to establish the run game,” Kamrath said. “The last game, Stoughton did a really good job taking away things we were doing well. They forced us to pass the ball more. We were able to do that successfully.
“It’s a credit to our offensive line for protecting Ethan and to him for getting the ball out quick. Our receivers got open and made plays. Whatever they decide to, we’ll definitely have an answer for it. We still have potential for growth. We work every week to get better. We’re making big strides.”
Watertown has the luxury of facing the other top teams in the league in the final two weeks at home. A win over Oregon likely sets up a battle of unbeatens against Monona Grove in the regular season finale.
“These are two huge games for us,” Kamrath said. “These two teams are top two or three teams in the conference. We’ll have to play our A game. We can’t turn the ball over as many times as we have and be able to win the game. We’ll work on that. Stoughton did an excellent job in their tackling and stripping of the ball. We’ve definitely put an emphasis on that this week, keeping the ball high and tight.”
Watertown always fields a nice crowd for homecoming night. Kamrath has appreciated that over the years.
“Homecoming has been fantastic every year I’ve been a part of it,” Kamrath said. “This is the 15th year I have been a part of it. Every year, we have great crowds and great atmosphere. We always ask each other, ‘How many people do you think will be there?’ This game has huge implications for the conference championship race as well as playoff seedings.
“People are as excited about Watertown football as we are. We’re looking forward to playing. It’s a lot like a playoff game because of that. We’ll get kids ready to go. I hope we’ll come out and play the way we are capable of.”